Sep 19 2014

Obituary: Elaine Lee

elainelee_0001Elaine Lee, the South African born actress best known to Australians as Vera Collins in Number 96, has died at the age of 75.

An established actress in South Africa, Lee came to Australia in 1970 with husband, actor Garth Meade. “I was going to do the housewife thing. I had no intention of acting at all,” she told TV Week in 1976. “But I got itchy feet and I had to do something. It was Garth who said I should get back into acting. He said I’d never be happy unless I was in showbusiness.”

One of her first TV appearances in Australia was in the drama series The Evil Touch.

In 1972 Lee was one of the original cast members in the groundbreaking series Number 96. She played the part of Vera Collins, a former prostitute turned fashion designer. While other characters at Number 96 were played for comedy, Vera was portrayed often as melodramatic and was frequently the hapless soap opera victim — a theme that also carried through Vera Collins’ main storyline in the Number 96 feature film in 1974,

She eventually left the series in 1976 with Vera finally finding love with Guy Sutton (Peter Whitford). Producers sought to reprise the character into a spin-off series, Fair Game, with a pilot worked into two episodes of Number 96, but it was not picked up.

tvweek_110574Given Vera’s earlier professional background and constant ill-fated romances in Number 96, Lee’s farewell present from the producers upon leaving the series was an award statuette. “It was presented to the ‘Best Horizontal Actress’!,” she said.

Lee also appeared in the 1000th episode special Number 96: They Said It Wouldn’t Last in mid-1976 and returned for the show’s curtain call at the end of its final episode in 1977.

She went on to a guest role in the ABC comedy series Who Do You Think You Are and played school principal Margaret Gibson on the Seven Network‘s Glenview High.

Later TV credits included Super Sleuth, Anzacs, A Country Practice, Bullpitt!, Heartbreak High, Bondi Banquet, All Saints and Home And Away.

In recent years Lee appeared in the featured extras and audio commentary on DVD releases of Number 96 and made guest appearances on Andrew Mercado‘s The Playlist on Foxtel.

Source: TV Week, 19 June 1976. IMDB, Sydney Morning Herald


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Sep 19 2014

What we watched: June 2000

watchtv2Another random snapshot of what we were watching on TV. This time it’s the week ending 3 June 2000.

We’d fought off the Y2K bug and the GST was just around the corner. The Games Of The XXVII Olympiad in Sydney were a few short months away.

And we were still watching analogue TV.

The Nine Network topped the prime time ratings (ACNielsen, 5 cities) for the week ending 3 June 2000 — scoring 31.4%, followed by Seven (30.0%), Ten (20.3%), ABC (15.2%) and SBS (3.0%). Nine won comfortably in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, while Seven won in Adelaide and Perth.

In the regional markets: Queensland was won by WIN (32.2%), Northern NSW was easily won by NBN (37.5%), WIN (32.9%) was top in Southern NSW and also in Victoria (36.4%). The Seven network affiliates in each market ranked second, while Ten affiliates ranked third in Queensland, Southern NSW and Victoria but fourth place in Northern NSW where it was beaten by ABC.

In Tasmania, Southern Cross Television (44.1%) was almost ten points clear of runner up WIN.


The Top 20 shows for Week 39 (May 28-June 3, 2000):
Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers*
1 Backyard Blitz Nine Sun 2436000
2 National Nine News Nine Sun 2379000
3 Special: Great Winter Ideas Seven Tue 2122000
4 Friends Nine Mon 1990000
5 Seven News Seven Sun 1985000
6 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1959000
7 Harry’s Practice Seven Sun 1887000
8 ER Nine Thu 1884000
9 Hot Property Seven Wed 1857000
10 Spin City Nine Mon 1847000
11 Blue Heelers Seven Wed 1833000
12 Movie: Austin Powers Nine Sun 1825000
13 Ground Force Seven Wed 1814000
14 Getaway Nine Thu 1809000
15 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1742000
16 Ally McBeal Seven Mon 1729000
17 National Nine News Nine M-F 1723000
18 National Nine News Nine Sat 1716000
19 Our House Nine Wed 1709000
20 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1692000
* Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth
Source: Mediaweek, as supplied by ACNielsen.

Network Ten‘s highest place in the weekly rankings was a Thursday night screening of The Simpsons, ranked at 38th spot with 1,336,000 viewers. The network’s highest rating Australian program was The Panel at #44 with 1,267,000.

ABC‘s top program was British series Monarch Of The Glen, ranked 24th with 1,652,000. Its top Australian program was the late news at #41 with 1,308,000, followed by drama series Seachange (#49, 1.206m).

SBS did not have any program ranked in the Top 100.

The weeknight 6.00pm timeslot was won by National Nine News (#17, 1.723m) followed by Seven News (#37, 1.366m) and Ten’s repeats of sitcom The Nanny (#75, 905,000).

At 6.30pm A Current Affair (#20, 1.692m) was well ahead of Seven’s Today Tonight (#48, 1.214m) and Ten’s Neighbours (#66, 1.021m). Neighbours even managed to outrate TT in Sydney.

homeandaway_0005Sale Of The New Century (#29, 1.546m) won at 7.00pm, ahead of Home And Away (pictured)(#35, 1.428m), ABC News (#59, 1.095m) and Seinfeld (#68, 988,000).

The battle of the Sunday night movies was won by Nine’s Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (#12, 1.825m), followed by Ten’s Dante’s Peak (#65, 1.048m) and Seven’s Courage Under Fire (#93, 746,000).

wheeloffortune_0001Nine’s Burgo’s Catchphrase (#84, 789,000) beat Seven’s Wheel Of Fortune (pictured)(#92, 749,000) in the 5.30pm game show battle.

Other notable rankings include Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (#21, 1.688m), All Saints (#32, 1.459m), Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show (#33, 1.444m), Water Rats (#50, 1.200m), the Grand Final of talent quest Starstruck (#42, 1.297m), Ten News At Five (weeknights, #56, 1.120m) and The Footy Show: AFL (#97, 723,000).

The Seven Network special The Deep End, an interview between Andrew Denton and Ian Thorpe, was ranked #31 with 1,464,000 viewers.

backyardblitzIn Sydney the top show was National Nine News (Sunday, 673,000) followed by Backyard Blitz (670,000), Seven’s lifestyle special Great Winter Ideas (617,000) and Burke’s Backyard (603,000).

Melbourne’s top show was Sunday’s National Nine News (834,000) followed by Backyard Blitz (745,000), Harry’s Practice (682,000) and then local magazine show Postcards (679,000) which had been shifted from 5.30pm to 7.00pm to bridge the half-hour gap between Backyard Blitz (pictured) and 60 Minutes.

greatwinterideasIn Brisbane the top rating show was Backyard Blitz (451,000) followed by Sunday’s National Nine News (436,000), Great Winter Ideas (pictured)(371,000) and movie Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (350,000).

While Adelaide and Perth were included in the national totals, local rankings were not included in the Top 100 list.

Source: Mediaweek, 13 June 2000, with ratings data supplied by ACNielsen.

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Sep 16 2014

Margaret and David to retire; At The Movies to end

davidmargaret_0001The mere mention of the names ‘Margaret and David’ and anyone will know who you’re talking about — Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton from ABC‘s At The Movies.

The pair have announced that after 28 years of reviewing and not always agreeing over movies that they will present their last At The Movies show in December.

As a result, At The Movies will not be returning in 2015.

Stratton, who has just turned 75, said it was time to go:

“After 28 years reviewing films on television with Margaret, ten of them at the ABC, I feel it’s time to go. We’ve had a wonderful time, thanks to very supportive and encouraging audiences, throughout that period. And we’ve worked with wonderful teams, both at SBS and at the ABC, people who discovered movies alongside us, helped and assisted us, and in the process became valued friends. We couldn’t have done it without them.

“Most of all, working with Margaret, whose enthusiasm, commitment and passion has been amazing (and only occasionally irritating) has been a joy for over a quarter of a century. But, since I turned 75 last week, I look forward to less pressure and more opportunities to enjoy the movies I love, in the years ahead.”

Pomeranz added:

“As David says, it’s time to go from the small screen after a great innings, thanks to all our viewers and the fabulous teams we’ve worked with over the years. And thank you to the ABC and SBS. We’ve been lucky to work for two great public broadcasters, and long may they prosper.

“My gratitude goes to David who gave me credibility just by being prepared to sit by me and discuss film when I am just a film enthusiast, not the great walking encyclopedia of film that he is. He’s a grand person, a most generous, decent man, even if a little stubborn at times.

“We’ve seen Australian films continue to mature over nearly three decades on air and I look forward to a continued involvement in this wonderful industry of ours which explores and reflects our culture and our peccadilloes. It’s been such a privilege to have been on the sidelines, witnessing the talent that this country produces in all areas of film production.

“I’m very sad to have to call an end to our show, it started out as a very fragile thing and only survived because there are enough lovers of film in this country to support a specific program about cinema. Thank you all.”

margaretpomeranzdavidstrattonBoth Stratton and Pomeranz were employed at SBS when it began broadcasting as Channel 0/28 in 1980 — with Stratton as resident movie host and Pomeranz working behind the scenes as a producer. Six years later they co-hosted a new series, The Movie Show (pictured), initially with Silvio Rivier.

‘Margaret and David’ presented The Movie Show until they made the move from SBS to ABC in 2004, where they continued the same format under a new name — At The Movies.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott paid tribute to their contribution to ABC and to the wider arts community:

“The fact that everybody knows them as Margaret and David demonstrates how much they are loved by the Australian public. Their passionate and enthusiastic championing of the cinema art form, their articulate and always entertaining reviews and their personal rapport on stage (not to mention those earrings) have defined them. Their contribution to the ABC and to the wider arts community has been enormous. We are so proud to have worked with them for over a decade at the ABC and we will miss them. I give them five stars.”

SBS have retrieved from the archive the first edition of The Movie Show that went to air on 30 October 1986:

At The Movies makes its final appearance on 9 December.

YouTube: ABC TV Australia




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Sep 16 2014

1994: September 17-23

tvweek_170994Cover: Lisa McCune (Blue Heelers)

Tristan tugged in a new direction
Tristan Bancks, who has just left Home And Away, and former co-star Dieter Brummer have become business partners in a new television production company. Bancks, who played Peter “Tug” O’Neale, has recently been in the United Kingdom to discuss ideas for a new show while also making television appearances and signing to play Aladdin in an upcoming panto. “I’ve talked to agents over there about doing some theatre work and teeing up some long-term stuff,” he told TV Week. “I’m interested in production, but mainly from the viewpoint that I can’t stay in the vibe of the industry when I’m not working as an actor.”

jaasonsimmons‘No-one can stand me!’
Tasmanian actor Jaason Simmons (pictured) has moved on from the ill-fated Paradise Beach and joined the cast of the hit American series Baywatch. Simmons plays the part of lifeguard Logan Fowler who joins the squad as part of a lifeguard exchange program with Australia. “Basically I’m there to cause conflict,” he told TV Week. “I’m an unconventional lifeguard and people I work with may not like me, but I do my job well so that’s why I’m staying. In fact, now that I think about it, no-one can stand me!” Simmons had first made the move to Los Angeles three years ago, collecting garbage in order to pay for acting classes and managed to score a minor part in Beverly Hills 90210 that ended up on the cutting room floor. He returned to Australia where he picked up the role of Harry Tate in Paradise Beach and also a role in the short film Page 73. He was working on Page 73 when he was told he had the Baywatch part. “I was a bit concerned after seeing this show and wondering what everyone would be like,” he said. “People think that ‘beautiful people’ can be hard to get along with, but everyone welcomed me with open arms… it is like a family.” Simmons’ appearances in Baywatch are due to begin airing in Australia later in the year.

Family law
Husband and wife actors Denis Moore and Val Levkowicz often end up working together — but it’s always by coincidence. This time the pair are working beside each other in ABC‘s Janus, with Moore as County Court Judge Grossman and Levkowicz as his associate, Rose Lipski. Yet they auditioned for the roles separately. “When I went to audition for Janus, Denis read opposite me — not the same role he ended up getting,” Levkowicz told TV Week. Moore added, “She got her part, and then I was asked to audition for the role of Grossman.” The pair have also worked together as married couple Ross and Bev Roberts in the sitcom Newlyweds. “No-one on the Newlyweds set even knew we were married in real life until a few weeks after we started,” Moore said.


  • Attitude reporter David Hannam (pictured) thought he had become a fully-fledged celebrity when he was asked for an autograph by a crowd of schoolchildren in Adelaide. His ego bubble was soon burst when he realised that the excited crowd thought he was AFL footballer Ben Hart to whom Hannam bears a striking resemblance.
  • Alex Dimitriades, the leading star of Ten‘s Heartbreak High, will be making his last appearance in the series at the end of the year. With co-star Sarah Lambert also leaving it means the movie premise that inspired the series — the teacher and the lovestruck pupil — will no longer be in the show.
  • Kym Wilson, Simone Buchanan and Marcus Graham are tipped to star in the upcoming Melbourne production of the play Desire. The show’s Sydney season starred Dee Smart (ex-Home And Away) and Chris Mayer (ex-Hey Dad).
  • This week marks the debut of Banjo Patterson’s Man From Snowy River. The 13-part series cost $11 million to produce — reported to be the most expensive drama produced in Australia to date.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing August 28):

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 World’s Greatest TV Commercials Seven Wed 2218000
2 Home Improvement Seven Wed 1957000
3 Australia’s Funniest Home Videos Nine Tue 1841000
4 Hey Hey By Request Nine Tue 1795000
5 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1794000
6 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1785000
7= National Nine News Nine Sun 1778000
7= Our House Nine Wed 1778000
9 Hangin’ With Mr Cooper Seven Thu 1726000
10 Getaway Nine Thu 1671000
11 National Nine News Nine M-F 1643000
12 Looking Good Nine Wed 1607000
13 Hey Hey It’s Saturday Nine Sat 1597000
14= National Nine News Nine Sat 1581000
14= Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1581000
16 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1565000
17 SeaQuest DSV Ten Sun 1518000
18 Eyewitness News Ten Sun 1488000
19 Seven Nightly News Seven Sat 1481000
20 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1471000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here

“It suddenly dawned on me just the other day (these things can take a while) that I have now seen 15 hours of the British series Between The Lines. I have been hanging around this page — and this business — for one or two days now and, in that time, I don’t recall a one-hour series completely hooking me as this one has. Obviously I’m not the only one, either. In this office, where we are lucky enough to get access to tapes in advance of episodes going to air on the Seven Network, we have a dedicated band eager to follow the latest pursuits of the show’s anti-hero, the internal investigations copper Tony Clark, played by Neil Pearson. There’s a less-than-orderly queue formed each week… after, of course, I’ve pulled ranked and had first look.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, September 17-23):
Saturday: The Women’s National Basketball League Grand Final is live from Melbourne (5pm, ABC). In A Country Practice (5.30pm, Ten), Jess (Jane Hall) befriends a little girl with a dream to become a vet, while Maggie (Joan Sydney) discovers the art of making plaster moulds and Ian (Paul Gleeson) makes the perfect model.

Sunday: The Preliminary Final of the Winfield Cup Rugby League is broadcast live (2.50pm, Nine) with highlights later in the day (6pm, ABC). Our World With Glenn Ridge (6.30pm, Nine) presents a documentary on the Great Ocean Road, presented by Melbourne newsreader Brian Naylor. Sunday night movies are The Addams Family (repeat, Seven), White Hunter, Black Heart (Nine) and Shining Through (Ten).

Monday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Jack’s (Daniel Amalm) luck with his string of girlfriends finally runs out.

Tuesday: In Blue Heelers (7.30pm, Seven), a farmer’s niece returns to Mount Thomas to help her family retain their property which they could lose due to an ancient law. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Kate Morrison (Deborra-Lee Furness) consults William (Michael Craig) seeking a double mastectomy as a preventative measure against breast cancer. In Law Of The Land (9.30pm, Nine), Clive (Richard Moir) questions Ray (Mike Bishop) about lying the night he was at the hotel.

Wednesday: In Wedlocked (8pm, Seven), Lex (Richard Piper) gets romantically involved with a member of the Salvation Army.

raymartinolivianewtonjohnThursday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Debbie (Marnie Reece-Wilmore) has become more withdrawn and believes she can’t face Julie’s (Julie Mullins) funeral. Australian Biography (7.30pm, SBS) focuses on author Nancy Cato, whose most famous works include All The Rivers Run. Ray Martin Presents (8.30pm, Nine) features an interview with Olivia Newton-John (pictured with Ray Martin) who reveals the highs and lows in her personal and professional life, including her recent battle with breast cancer. Alyce Platt guest stars in legal drama Janus (8.30pm, ABC).

andrewclarke_0002Friday: Drama series Banjo Patterson’s Man From Snowy River (8.30pm, Nine) debuts with a two-hour episode, starring Andrew Clarke (pictured), Wendy Hughes, Guy Pearce, Victoria Tennant, John Stanton and Brett Climo.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 17 September 1994. Southdown Press




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Sep 14 2014

Ready When You Are… or were we?

pattihumphrey_0001One of the most successful US comedy shows of the Sixties and early Seventies was Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In. The rapid-fire comic sketches with all the psychedelic colours of the era was a hit for America’s NBC network and also found a following in Australia (although Australians still saw the show in black and white).

One of the writers of Laugh-In was English-born Australian Chris Beard. From the late 1950s, Beard hosted Smalltime, a daily half-hour children’s show for ATN7 in Sydney, and wrote for the channel’s other children’s show Captain Fortune. He then progressed to writing for popular variety show Revue ’61 which was sold to the Canadian network CTV.

Beard then went to work in Canada, writing for television including local comedy shows Nightcap and Network before joining the writing team for Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In and producing The Andy Williams Show.

In 1969 he made a return visit to Australia and offered to produce a comedy special based on what he’d learned overseas. The Nine Network not only took him up on the offer but also made available just about every performer that was on the Nine payroll to appear in his new comic venture.

The result was Ready When You Are CB, a one-hour special with segments produced in both Sydney and Melbourne that went to air in both cities on Monday, 10 November 1969. Like Laugh-In the show promised rapid-fire sketches no longer than around 20 seconds each, with the exception being a two-minute operetta. More than 70 artists and personalities were involved in the production — including (in no particular order) Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Patti McGrath (later to become Patti Newton), Philip Brady, Don Lane, Ed Devereuax, Barry Crocker, Carmen Duncan, Stuart Wagstaff, Johnny O’Keefe, Col Joye, Tony Charlton, Terry Dear, Frank Wilson, Eric Pearce, Brian Henderson, Geoff Harvey, Johnny Lockwood, Frank Rich, Kevin Goldsby, Buster Fiddess, Bob Rogers, Reg Gorman, Desmond Tester, Rosemary Margan, Tim Evans, Toni Lamond, Mike Dorsey, Diana Ward, Ronnie Arnold, Robina Beard (Chris’ sister) and Humphrey B Bear.

Ready When You Are CB — the title taken from the well-known phrase said to legendary Hollywood director Cecil B DeMille — received a mixed reaction from the critics. TV Week critic Jerry Fetherston liked it despite some flaws:

“One every five seconds or so the jokes came. Some were funny, some were corny, some were plain bad. But they were always zany. The jokes, of course, were part of the craziest hour Australian television has produced — Ready When You Are CB. When Chris Beard set out to make his special he obviously patterned it on Laugh-In, only he made the pace even faster. But I think the fascination of the special was the spectacle of the stars of Australian TV making asses of themselves in a glorious display of upstaging. Dimples (Philip) Brady singing “Philip Brady is my name and television is my game,” Don Lane imitating a blue tongue lizard and a llama, Bert Newton getting into bed with Humphrey Bear, and Eric Pearce giving away newsreading to become a singer.”

But Fetherston’s colleague Frank Crook didn’t hold back with his disappointment:

“There are times when a person feels like sitting down and having a good cry about Australian television. One day, if we all live long enough, we may see a dead-set, sure-fire, gold-plated original Australian show. Until that day comes, we have to sit, slack-jawed, through “specials” like Ready When You Are CB. Mr Chris Beard, the eminent expatriate writer, did most of the pencilling for the show and it would seem he brought over much of the material rejected by Laugh-In. It is no joke watching watching people like Eric Pearce, Brian Bury and Ron Casey at the best of times. It is downright dismal watching them do something that is so obviously not their “thing”. But the laughter came all the same — straight out of a can. It was a bore, Mr Beard. If you keep churning out this sort of stuff for the gullible natives, we may consider sending Leonard Teale over to your part of the world to stupefy the locals with The Man From Snowy River.”

Nine wasn’t the only one having a tough time with new comedy projects. At around the same time Seven had launched A Hard Day’s Week, a topical sketch comedy series airing in half-hour episodes on Sunday nights. A Hard Day’s Week, produced at ATN7, featured former Mavis Bramston Show co-star Barry Creyton with June Salter, Willie Fennell, Donald McDonald and Sue Walker. The series was axed after two months after failing to earn decent ratings in its home market of Sydney.

Seven’s Melbourne channel HSV7 had also launched a new sitcom, Joan And Leslie. Despite promising ratings for its debut the series, starring British actor Leslie Randell and wife Joan Reynolds, suffered falling ratings in Melbourne and failed to be picked up by any other Seven Network stations and was cancelled after its initial 13-episode run.

(Pictured above are Bert Newton, Patti McGrath (Newton) and Humphrey B Bear)

Source: The Age, 6 November 1969. TV Times, 5 November 1969. TV Times, 19 November 1969. TV Week, 29 November 1969. TV Times, 3 December 1969





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Sep 12 2014

Obituary: Russ Tyson

russtysonRuss Tyson, the first person to appear on ABC television in Brisbane, has died at the age of 94.

Tyson was a long-serving presenter for ABC radio in Brisbane, starting as a cadet announcer in the late 1930s. When World War II broke out he went on air in Borneo with the Australian Army’s radio station.

After the war ended he returned to ABC, hosting the breakfast program from 1948 to 1966 as well as the Hospital Hour.

On television he was the first to appear on ABQ2, the ABC’s Brisbane station, on the night it opened in November 1959, and hosted programs including Anything Goes and national series On Camera. He continued to work with ABC until he resigned in 1966, citing differences with management over changes to the breakfast radio program.

After leaving the ABC he went to commercial radio station 4KQ in Brisbane.

He retired from broadcasting in 1976.

Russ Tyson is survived by his wife Joy and their children and grandchildren.


Source: Radioinfo, 612 ABC BrisbaneSydney Morning Herald.




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Sep 10 2014

Community TV ordered off the air

colourbarsEarlier this month Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged his government’s support for community broadcasting: “Committed as we are to Australia’s diversity, we are committed to community broadcasting,” Mr Turnbull told a gathering of politicians and representatives of the community broadcasting sector at a recent Morning Tea event at Parliament House.

It seems Mr Turnbull has had a change of heart since that meeting, announcing that the Government now intends to withdraw community TV from the airwaves at the end of 2015.

The decision affects community channels in Sydney, Melbourne and Geelong, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth who will now be forced into an online-only presence or into oblivion.

The broadcasting spectrum currently being used by the community broadcasters was “borrowed” capacity made available by the former Labor Government until the end of 2014. The current government now intends to reallocate this broadcasting spectrum for other uses that may include testing new technologies such as MPEG-4 or making it available for other non-broadcast applications.

The Government has already committed to selling off the high end of the UHF band (channels 52 to 69) following the completed phase out of analogue television and the pending re-tune of digital television services across Australia.

For the community TV sector this is a crippling blow. Community TV channels may not command high audiences but provide free-to-air access to minority groups not served by mainstream television. This includes migrant communities, sporting and leisure groups, youth, people with a disability, religious groups, LGBTI communities and local government.

The sector also provides experience and exposure to performers, artists, production crews and journalists — with many going on to employment in mainstream media — as well as an opportunity for small business, who can no longer afford to use mainstream media, to promote their services.

And with an online-only presence these broadcasters, which will no longer be “broadcasting”, will lose a considerable amount of audience reach, thereby affecting their capacity to gain sponsors to make them viable. The channels involved also do not receive any government funding, while commercial networks that are handing over capacity to multiple 24-hour shopping channels have in the past been handed generous licensing rebates.

Moving to online-only operation will also affect those without adequate access to high speed internet services such as the National Broadband Network (NBN) and viewing such high-bandwidth content will also eat into download limits as ‘metered’ content.

At the time of writing more than 6700 people have signed up to the ‘Commit To Community TV’ campaign that was initiated by the community TV sector to petition the Government to extend its commitment to community television broadcasting.

Source: CBAA, Malcolm Turnbull, ABC, Commit To Community TV




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Sep 09 2014

1994: September 10-16

tvweek_100994Cover: Heather Locklear (Melrose Place)

‘It’s time to jump off the cliff again!’
A guest role in this week’s episode of GP has given actor Garry McDonald a chance to stretch his boundaries. “I felt a while ago that I was always working with the same people, that I needed certain people for a safety net,” he told TV Week. “I thought I should start jumping off the cliff again.” Playing the part of radio announcer ‘Gazza’ is also testing McDonald’s coping mechanisms since starting treatment for an anxiety disorder which saw him suffer a nervous breakdown during production of The Norman Gunston Show last year. “I’m never pleased with what I’m doing. I just have to go with the moment. I know that when this show goes to air my anxiety level is going to be very high, so I am going to have to confront this, and sit down and watch it.” In the meantime he has also been working to educate people about anxiety disorders. “I want people who have an anxiety disorder to know there is a way out.”

juliemullins_0001Did she fall… or was she pushed?
A murder mystery weekend of fun on Neighbours ends in tragedy when a real body is found. Julie Martin (Julie Mullins) is found dead at the base of a hotel tower, leaving everyone asking, “did she fall, did she jump… or was she pushed?” The dramatic storyline marks Mullins’ departure from the series after two years. “It’s been wonderful, but the challenge is gone,” she told TV Week. “I’ve noticed over the past few couple of months that the edge has been taken off my approach to the part, and I don’t like doing something I can’t commit to 100 per cent.” Mullins plans to complete another unit for an arts degree she is doing part-time and will be going to the United Kingdom in November for a role in the stage production Babes In The Woods.

Burke’s birthday bash!
To celebrate Burke’s Backyard‘s seventh birthday, host and producer Don Burke has thrown a party at his north Sydney home for the show’s cast and crew. Burke tells TV Week that the show has turned around the public perception of gardening. “Prior to doing this thing on television, gardening was perceived to be hideously boring,” he said. “When we first started, nowhere in the world had there been an infotainment program, and I think people didn’t know what to call us. It was a lifestyle program with a huge bent on entertainment and lifestyle. It took about five years before people came to terms with that new concept.”


  • Former champion swimmer Johanna Griggs (pictured with Bruce McAvaney) says that commentating rather than competing at the World Swimming Championships will make her feel nostalgic (she won a silver medal at the 1990 event) but says she doesn’t miss swimming. “I won’t be wishing I was in the pool, but I will feel very close to the swimmers, knowing the emotions that I went through as I was standing behind the blocks,” she told TV Week.
  • Former Sale Of The Century and Jeopardy host Tony Barber is making a return to TV — as an actor. Barber will be playing the part of talk show host Tony Johnson in five episodes of Seven‘s new sitcom Wedlocked. Meanwhile, Barber’s former Sale co-host Alyce Platt is soon to make a guest appearance in Ten‘s A Country Practice, playing the part of breast cancer patient Sarah Wilks.
  • Former Fast Forward star Michael Veitch is tipped to appear in one of the upcoming series of Halifax fp telemovies. Also signed up for Halifax fp is Bernard Curry, last seen on TV series Snowy.
  • Former Home And Away star Nicolle Dickson has made a surprise move into amateur theatre. The actress, once rumoured to be earning $250,000 a year for the part of Bobby in Home And Away, has decided it’s time to “pay her dues” and to prove her skills as an actor. “There is a belief that if you work on a soap, you really can’t act. So I want to prove myself on stage and maybe achieve some credibility in the process,” she told TV Week.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing August 21):

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 World’s Greatest TV Commercials Seven Sun 2127000
2 Home Improvement Seven Sun 2086000
3 Australia’s Funniest Home Videos Nine Tues 1796000
4 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1877000
5 Funniest Commercials You’ll Ever See Nine Tues 1796000
6 National Nine News Nine M-F 1717000
7 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1713000
8 National Nine News Nine Sun 1668000
9 Home Improvement Seven Wed 1644000
10 Our House Nine Wed 1641000
11 Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1587000
12 Baywatch Ten Sun 1581000
13 Eyewitness News Ten Sun 1553000
14 Eyewitness News Ten Sat 1534000
15 Movie: The Last Boy Scout Nine Sun 1499000
16 Married With Children Nine Tues 1494000
17 Looking Good Nine Wed 1463000
18 Seven Nightly News Seven M-F 1455000
19 Blue Heelers Seven Tues 1434000
20 Seven Nightly News Seven Sun 1435000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here

“A high-powered advertising executive with a penchant for the opposite sex, a beautiful but naive girl exposed for the first time to the big city, a handsome doctor who falls for a lovable but lovelorn homosexual, a lawyer-turned-waiter-and-womaniser… It sounds like a character breakdown for a new Aaron Spelling series but, fortunately for us all, it is not. It is, rather, just a brief sample of the characters who populate Armistead Maupin‘s Tales Of The City, screening on ABC over five Sunday nights. The difference between them and the population of, say, Melrose Place, is that Maupin’s characters are at once warm, funny, sad, frustrating, enigmatic and, above all, credible.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, September 10-16):
Saturday: Afternoon sport includes the VFA First Semi-Final (2pm, ABC) and the Winfield Cup Minor Semi-Final (2.50pm, Nine, with highlights at 6pm, ABC). In A Country Practice (5.30pm, Ten), Danny (Vince Colosimo) and Claire (Claudia Black) recognise their growing interest in each other. The World Swimming Championships (10.30pm, Seven) continue through to Monday night.

Sunday: Football finals continue with VFA Second Semi-Final (2pm, ABC), Winfield Cup Major Semi-Final (2.50pm, Nine, and highlights 6pm, ABC) and AFL Qualifying Finals matches from Perth (live 4.20pm, Seven) and Melbourne (replay 7.30pm, Seven). Sunday night movies are Kuffs (Seven), Universal Soldier (Nine) and A Place For Annie (Ten).

Monday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Jack (Daniel Amalm) is having the time of his life playing the field with three girlfriends. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Jim Brown visits Adelaide Hills to meet a local who makes steam engines designed to generate electricity; Peter Wherrett looks at back problems and a new lumber support for car seats; and Ronnie Burns looks at lighting a room and how it can change the whole atmosphere.

garrymcdonald_0001Tuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Danni (Eliza Szonert) has a surprise birthday present for herself when she gets the top of her ear pierced. In Blue Heelers (7.30pm, Seven), the police find it difficult to help a woman who won’t press charges against her husband for brutally beating her. Steven Jacobs and Sofie Formica host the new hidden camera series Just Kidding (8pm, Nine). In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Ian (Tony Llewellyn-Jones) treats Rachel (Melissa Bell), the neglected daughter of a wise-cracking radio announcer, “Gazza” (Garry McDonald, pictured)

Wednesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), old resentments surface between Angel (Melissa George) and Frankie (Lenka Kripac). The Movie Show (7.30pm, SBS) presents a special edition from the Venice Film Festival. Paul Clitheroe is back with another series of Money (8pm, Nine). The Seventies theatrical and performing group The Pram Factory, based in Melbourne, is profiled in a one-hour special (9.30pm, ABC).

Thursday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Pam (Sue Jones) and Doug (Terence Donovan) are bound for Darwin. Neville Bonner, the first indigenous member of federal parliament, is featured in Australian Biography (7.30pm, SBS). In Janus (8.30pm, ABC), Kirsty Nichols (Belinda McClory) turns her back on boyfriend Steve Henessey (Leon Teague) and becomes a police informer. Sketch comedy show Full Frontal (8.30pm, Seven) returns for a new series. Neil Mitchell hosts AFL: Talking 1999 (8.30pm, Nine), a forum to discuss the future of the Australian Football League and the five-year plan.

Friday: In Rex Hunt’s The Great Outdoors (7.30pm, Seven), guest reporter Melissa Bell visits the Kooralbyn Resort in southern Queensland where she gets a lesson on skydiving; and Bridget Adams shows a rescue beacon that could be a lifesaver for people lost outdoors.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 10 September 1994. Southdown Press




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Sep 07 2014

Prime7 Albury turns 50

amv4_opens_0002The launch of Albury’s first TV station AMV4 — now known as Prime7 – sparked an unusual TV rivalry, albeit a friendly one.

Because Albury did not have any local TV station prior to AMV4’s debut in September 1964, local viewers keen to access television had installed large antennas so they could receive Shepparton stations GMV6 and ABGV3 (ABC) which had been broadcasting since 1961 and 1963 respectively.

Even the local newspaper, The Border Morning Mail, was printing TV listings for both ABGV3 and GMV6 (and RVN2 for those able to get TV signals from Wagga Wagga!)

GMV6 was more than aware of its presence in the loungerooms of Albury viewers and would often send its local presenters to Albury for promotional appearances. GMV also gained interest from Albury viewers by inviting performers from the Albury region to appear on its own variety and children’s programs. So when AMV4 made its belated debut the two stations had to compete for viewers’ attention.

The company to operate Albury’s first TV station, Albury-Upper Murray TV Limited, was awarded its broadcasting licence in October 1962. Principal shareholders in the company included Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA) Limited, Hoyts Theatres, The Border Morning Mail and other local businesses — complying with the requirement that at least 50 per cent of the company’s shareholding must be locally based.

The new station built a single-studio building in Union Road, Lavington. The studio was equipped with AWA Vidicon cameras — with AMV claiming to be the first regional station to install the new technology. A 150 metre tall transmission mast was constructed on top of Mount Baranduda, approximately 20 kilometres south of Albury.

“Everyone in the Albury area is keenly interested in what is happening about their own television station,” managing director Ray Kidd told TV Week in July 1963. “At the moment some areas receive GMV6, Shepparton, and this is adding to the interest in the Albury station.” The new channel was planning to have around 44 hours of programming each week from the time of its launch.

amv4_opens_0001With test transmissions starting from the morning of Thursday, 3 September 1964, AMV4 was officially opened the following Monday, 7 September 1964. The first program to go to air was local children’s show Cohns Cobbers’ Teleclub, hosted by Olgamary Whelan. The program was due to start at 4.55pm but following the official station identification announcement the new channel’s historic first words to be broadcast on air were to come from the station’s film manager, Bernard Harper: “Anybody seen Olgamary?” It turned out that Whelan had been delayed getting to the studio and Cohns Cobbers’ Teleclub ended up being a minute late in starting — but not that the enthusiastic crowd of an estimated 100 children who had assembled in the studio seemed to mind. After Whelan and station colleague Ross Sellars finished their introductions and threw to a segment of The Mickey Mouse Club, there was much cheering from the studio audience who later gave a roaring rendition of Happy Birthday as cake and candles were brought in the studio.

Cohns Cobbers’ Teleclub was the creation of Denzil Howson who had come from Melbourne’s GTV9, where he had worked both in front and behind the cameras, to become production manager at AMV4.

AMV4’s official opening program, Were You There With AMV, appeared just after the debut relay of ABC’s national news at 7.00pm.

Were You There With AMV presented film coverage of events from over the previous ten months from around the channel’s viewing area as well as performances from local artists. 

johnworthyThe following night AMV4 launched its local news service, a ten-minute bulletin presented each weeknight by John Worthy (pictured). Other local programs launched in the channel’s early days included a variety show that alternated between the titles Take Four, Music At Four, The Four Star Show and The Big Four Show, quiz show The Mates Show and weekly women’s magazine Roundabout With Olgamary.

Ross Sellars hosted the local current affairs program On Target, weekly interview segment Face, the Friday night Sports Preview and Saturday night Football Inquest. The station had also signed up former Collingwood footballer Murray Wiedeman, who had relocated to Albury to coach a team in the local league, to appear on a weekly football round-up.

AMV4 had assembled a line-up of imported programs including Candid Camera, Coronation Street, Singalong With Mitch, Cheyenne, McHale’s Navy, My Three Sons, Bonanza, The Saint, Mike Hammer, International Showtime, Harrigan And Son and Superman. Australian programs sourced from the capital city networks included Bandstand, It Could Be You and children’s programs Ampol Stamp Quiz and The Terrific Adventures Of The Terrible Ten.

By the early 1970s the station was experiencing financial challenges in response to rising operating costs and an arrangement was soon made to merge Albury-Upper Murray TV Limited with nearby television station RVN2, Wagga Wagga. The new company,  Riverina and North‐East Victoria Television Limited, eventually linked RVN2 and AMV4 via microwave, enabling the broadcast of a uniform program schedule across both channels — though the AMV studios in Union Road would continue to produce a local news, and AMV4 would split from the RVN2 program to broadcast Australian Rules football coverage for its predominantly Victorian audience.

In the mid-1980s, RVN-AMV became known on-air as The Prime Network in a partnership with fellow regional stations CBN8, Orange, and CWN6, Dubbo — and in 1987 production of AMV’s local news was merged with RVN2’s news bulletin from Wagga Wagga, though this was not a popular change and was soon reversed.

The Prime Network later became Prime Television as regional networks were preparing for the change to aggregation, with Prime aligning itself with the Seven Network for program supply.

AMV then became the hub for the Prime Television network (now Prime7) broadcasting across regional Victoria, while RVN was amalgamated with CBN in expanding across Southern NSW and ACT.

Although the presentation of Prime7’s Albury regional news has been based in Canberra since 2011, Prime7 still maintains a presence at its original Union Road site — though not for much longer. Prime7 is now planning to vacate the premises and transfer its news, sales and production staff to an alternative location nearer the Albury CBD.

Source: The Canberra Times, 5 October 1962. The Age, 5 October 1962. TV Week, 13 July 1963. TV Week, 16 May 1964. TV Times, 2 September 1964. The Border Morning Mail, 8 September 1964. The Border MailThe Riverina’s Own Television Service, Maikha Ly.


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